What started as local New Orleans’ club music, a subgenre of hip hop called bounce, may be on the verge of becoming America’s newest dance craze — thanks in no small part to its biggest star, self-proclaimed “Queen Diva,” Big Freedia. She performs at Public Works on Sunday to celebrate Pride and teach the Mission a thing or two about booty shaking.
Born in New Orleans as Freddie Ross, Big Freedia is a gay man with a female stage persona. A pioneering queer figure in a primarily male, straight scene, she insists that her music is not its own genre, rejecting the label “Sissy Bounce” that is often associated with her in the media.
“I bring a new rhythm and real new pizzazz to it,” she says. “I have my own twists, my own style.”
More than anything, bounce music is party music best experienced live. Bounce is known for its uptempo, heavy bass, hyper-sexualized lyrics, and, perhaps most importantly, the onstage displays of high propulsive booty shaking.
Anyone who’s ever attended a bounce show knows that it’s a sweaty affair that comes with a serious glute workout. With this in mind, Big Freedia is also releasing the first ever bounce workout video along with her new album due in September.
“[There's] lots of different moves to workout,” Big Freedia says of the video, “It should be very fun for everybody to enjoy.”
Big Freedia may seem like an unlikely hip hop star and representative of bounce music but with a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, an upcoming tour with the indie pop band The Postal Service, a reality TV show and new album in the works, she is poised to become one of America’s next big hip hop stars – gay, straight, or otherwise.
Performing with such unlikely tour mates as the Postal Service can come with its challenges. Big Freedia has experienced her fair share of odd looks from concertgoers expecting bubbly indie pop tunes.
“Some people will be shocked at the first songs, or the first two songs, or whatever,” she says. “And then by the third songs they’re throwing their hands in the air and they’re trying to learn how to dance.”
Big Freedia explains she’s excited about performing in San Francisco as part of Pride Weekend, especially in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“I definitely would like to get married,” she says. “If Big Freedia gets married, we definitely need to have the Superdome or something.”